Thursday 29 June 2017

GE to ship in pre-made pharma factories to Cork in €150m project

An artist’s impression of the new GE Healthcare campus in Cork
An artist’s impression of the new GE Healthcare campus in Cork
Michael Cogley

Michael Cogley

GE Healthcare is to ship in four pre-fabricated factories as part of €150m project that could lead to the creation of 500 manufacturing jobs.

The investment is to fund the construction of the GE BioPark in Ringaskiddy in Cork, which will house four KUBio facilities, the first of their kind in the EU.

The KUBio facilities will be sold by GE to pharma companies that have completed multiple clinical trials with a drug ready or nearly ready to go to market.

GE intends to hire around 100 employees in manufacturing, engineering and quality and will look to begin recruitment at the start of next year.

GE Healthcare Life Sciences chief executive Kieran Murphy said the company was "delighted" to be investing in Ireland again. "Pharma companies worldwide are racing to respond to patient needs with new life-changing biological medicines, and GE is investing in technology and service solutions, as well as industry skills and expertise, to enable them to make and get their products to market more quickly," he said.

The firm employs around 600 people in Ireland, mostly at its existing base in Cork.

GE KUBio facility in Wuhan, China
GE KUBio facility in Wuhan, China

The company also announced plans to set up training collaboration with the National Institute for Bioprocessing Research and Training to help develop skills for Ireland's biologics sector. As part of the training programme GE will look to upskill 1,500 professionals a year.

"This is a further testament to our talented workforce. All investment and jobs created has a positive knock-on effect on the wider region," said Jobs Minister Mary Mitchell O'Connor. "Over 28,000 people currently work in biopharma and 6,000 of those work in biologics.

"This sub-sector is expected to double in the coming years and will provide both a challenge and an opportunity for the industry and training providers to collaborate on promoting the range of career opportunities available," the minister said.

The announcement is the latest addition to Ireland's growing pharma sector.

"Ireland is a very attractive country, it's got a good reputation for bio production," GE's BioPark head, David Radspinner, told the Irish Independent

"There has been a lot of other activity throughout Ireland with various biopharmaceutical manufacturers. That's part of what's attracted us," he said.

Mr Radspinner remained tight-lipped on the value of the factories as the company is in negotiations with clients to sell the units. However, he did say demand for the factories, which are slated to be up and running by late 2018, has been quite strong. GE wouldn't reveal how long the companies would look to own the facilities either.

"We're still evaluating with potential clients on the value so we can't disclose that right now, but we're talking about many years. We don't have many years. You can imagine that they'd be worth quite a bit."

The GE-managed campus is to be built on an IDA strategic site. The agency's chief executive, Martin Shanahan, said it was a significant win for Ireland.

"The biopharmaceutical manufacturing campus will greatly assist IDA Ireland win additional bio-manufacturing investments by acting as a catalyst to attract new innovator drug companies and to transition and grow existing operations.

"Ireland has won more than €10bn in the past 10 years in biotech investment, building on a long history," Mr Shanahan said.

Irish Independent

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